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How to Tell Fake Bronze in Sculptures

Genuine bronze statues have an uneven patina that develops over the entire surface.
bronze image by PASCAL BOUFFAY from Fotolia.com

Ancient bronze sculptures and statuary are often worth large sums of money -- and wherever there's money, there's crime. An industry of forgery has sprung up to take advantage of the profits that can be reaped from selling fake bronze statues. Often made of resin or less valuable metals, fake bronzes will usually be given an artificial patina, imitating the genuine effect of aging on the surface of the metal. If you know what to look for, however, you can usually tell a fake from the real deal simply by using your powers of observation.

Check the price tag. If the statue looks like a steal, it probably is -- but you're the victim. Suspiciously low prices are often an indicator of shifty business.

Examine the craftsmanship. Many imitation bronzes feature shoddy detail work and generally appear to be of secondary quality when looked at closely. If the artwork is subpar, the chances of the sculpture being a fake are significantly higher, not to mention the fact that you're probably being charged more than the item is worth.

Look at the patina on the surface of the statue. Bronze develops an uneven brown and greenish hue over time that is most noticeable on ancient works that have been excavated. Forgeries often try to mimic this, but usually the results are less than convincing. Many fakes give the skin of the subject a uniform brown coloring, with the clothing taking on a more green hue. No genuine bronze will look like that.

Tap the sculpture to see whether it is made of genuine metal. A resin imitation sounds noticeably different from a real bronze statue. If you're still unsure, hold a lit match to the surface of the statue for several seconds. A bronze will show no visible changes, but a resin will immediately begin to bubble, giving itself away.

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